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August 27 - September 2, 2012

OSHA’s UK counterpart is adapting a “loser pays” system, in which companies that break health and safety laws would have to help pay for investigation and enforcement. What do you think of this idea?

More items for Program/Project Management
Answers Votes
Nice idea, but it won’t be consistently enforceable. 49%
Brilliant. All countries should do likewise. 32%
Lousy idea. This is a government function. 19%


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Tagged categories: Health and safety; OSHA

Comment from Karen Fischer, (8/28/2012, 11:12 AM)

First, I am in favor of REASONABLE regulation regarding the Health & Safety of Workers as I am sure most people are. However, setting that aside for a moment, it seems to me that a "loser pays" system would be quite an incentive to accelerate inspections, increase citations and push hard for increased dollar amounts for fines since the agency will directly benefit by doing so. As is evident in the US, it is rare indeed that any company cited by OSHA has every single citation eliminated. There is ALWAYS at least one that is upheld, thus qualifying the company as the "loser" in such cases. If an agency (OSHA) is also the one to decide which citations stick and which ones do not, it would seem to me the deck is stacked against any company faced with not only the eventual fine, but also, the legal fees from their own attorney's as well as (now) the addition costs passed on by OSHA relative to this "loser pays" system. Not especially conducive to the business environment in my opinion. Our current system is not perfect, but if the US were to adopt such a system, the only beneficiaries would be China and third world countries that have no such requirements.


Comment from Mark Schilling, (8/29/2012, 7:19 AM)

Some good comments Karen - The questions are - what is "reasonable" and who gets to decide? It sounds like a good thing to punish "losers" (as opposed to "winners??")but how do such schemes often play out? Reasonable regulation is fine but it so easily becomes a revenue stream. We all know that the police set up speed traps. Is that all about our safety or is it about revenue? We know that people are violating traffic laws. A cop that isn't writing enough tickets (quota)can't be doing a good job. (I have nothing against the police. My grandfather and uncle were policemen, and my brother-in-law is a recently retired chief of police.) We often have a similar issue with paint inspectors. They can be like Chief Inspector Clouseau (Pink Panther movies). They know that something is wrong. No job is perfect. An inspector has to find some fault to prove his own worth. If there is nothing wrong the inspector wasn't needed. The same holds true for OSHA regulations. There is a do-gooder mentality. The vast majority of OSHA citations are for paperwork problems. No one was injured. It's arguable that anyone was made more safe. But someone found fault and they did good. I don't mean to disparage anyone. I only mean to say that it can so easily go that way. Fault-finding can become a revenue stream. The original purpose gets lost and the focus gets narrowed to revenue (and do-gooder self-esteem).


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